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Area Orphanages

Posted by Fred Ragsdale 
Thank you, Jim, for posting this history of Mount St. Michael's. I've driven past there for years and years and always wondered when it was built, etc. With all of the large trees, etc. most of the time the grounds are hidden from view but during the winter time you can get glimpses of the outside grounds. Also, the place has a beautiful fountain near the main building with a circular driveway that's not shown on the drawing. It gives the place an Italian villa effect........
I can put some of the rumors and speculations to rest regarding Mount St. Michaels in the 1960s. I went to school there for about 2 years! Mother St. Theresa was the headmaster of the high school at the time.
It was not a home for unwed mothers! It was a boarding school for girls that was divided into two age groups on the same campus. One site was for girls that were in high school and the other site was for younger girls. Even though it was a boarding school, there were many girls there who were wards of the State of Texas and placed by social workers. These were girls who had not done anything bad enough to be placed in reform schools, mainly runaways with bad home situations.
Mount St. Michaels was run by the Sisters of Charity. There was a laundry that many of the high school girls who were wards of the State worked in for 4 hours per day when they were not in classes. The laundry was run by a different group of sisters.
There was a swimming pool for the high school girls, but there probably was one for the younger girls, too.
There was a Catholic Church on the grounds, and the public used to come on Christmas Eve to hear us sing the Christmas Mass (in Latin, of course), and we rehearsed for weeks until the wee hours for it. We also presented an Operetta each year that was open to the public, and we rehearsed late into the night for that event, too.
i attend mt. st. michaels from 1974-1976. the poster above is exactly right.
Re: The Bottom Line: The Orphanage
February 22, 2012 09:04AM
Linda.. I remember Mother Teresa.. but none of the other nuns except for Sister All Saints in the Laundry. I do remember the swimming pool.. but I don't remember it having water in it.. but was told that there was a program to train the girls in water ballet. I also played the Bass and would have played it in the Mikado had I not been kicked out.. I only made it there for a semester or so. At that time.. either it was called.. OR.. we called it Mt. St. Michaels Home for wayward girls LOL!

There was a woman there apparently posing as a girl too.. she was in her 20s but they let her board as a student.

Does anyone know what order maintained the laundry?

I thought there was a convent there too? but I'm not sure
Re: Mount St. Michael's Home for Girls (1945)
February 23, 2012 12:42PM
Remember servicing Dental Equiptment at the Catholic Girls Home on Davis I guess it was in about 1963 They had thier own Dental Opertory and I serviced it for free. Several Dallas Dentists would do work there for the home for free and would get in touch with me when something needed to be repaired. Remember couple other orphanages in Dallas that I would also do work in, cant recall the names at the moment? Deans Home Near old Cobb Stadium?
I do recall those girls were starved for affection and the Sisters would be standing close by while I worked. The girls seemed to be care free and roamed the building at thier free will.
Re: Area Orphanages
May 18, 2012 10:17AM
I was wondering if anyone had information or old pictures from this school or old stories to tell. My mother graduated from here in 1974. Her name was Kathy Farrell. Please let me know if you do I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,
Brooke
Re: Area Orphanages
September 03, 2012 09:44AM
Hello, I just stumbled on this site while looking for archive info on a boarding home/school my sister and I lived in during the early 60's. I am very much grateful to see this site, as it will help me along my journey.

My sister and I attended this home "orphanage" when our mother could no longer care for us for what seemed an eternity. Some of the most vivid recollections of our "stay" in this home was a Christmas where good minded and hearted people brought gifts for all the kids. We were in the "side" for the younger kids. I remember getting those gifts and even as a really young kid (I think we might have been 6/7 or 7/8?) recall loving the stuffed animal I got. We were in a large hall, I guess a gym or auditorium. Everything was very large then being a youngster. Unfortunately for us, it was a very dark time in our lives, filled with sadness we were no longer with our mother, not understanding what was going on, not knowing if she would come back for us or able to. As a 59 year old person now, I still think about this place. My sister and I were not together during this time and I don't know why. I know we saw each other on the playground, in the swimming pool, in fact, we both remember her getting hit in the eye with a horseapple that someone threw. I believe she also celebrated her first communian here as well. The Mothers were nice, one was Mother Agnes that I had. The dorms were spooky, I guess because of my age (just a year older than my sister), I was in another part of the dorms. Learned how to make a nice bed with those great corners. I had bronchitis really bad as a kid, the Mothers let me keep my window cracked. I remember an older girl befriending me, it was a blessing. Especially one night having hallucinations from the medicine for the bronchitis. My coughing was so bad, the blood vessels in my eyes burst and filled the white parts in with red. I don't have to tell you what a scary time it was for me then.

In the mornings, we all gathered in the front of the dorm to pray the rosary with the Mother. One funny (I cannot believe I was ever this bold) incident was when I decided one night to sleep in my uniform to save time in the morning. I woke up late realizing everyone had already huddled at the front and was already praying. I literally crawled to the group and thinking I blended in without notice, began to pray. Later that day in the lunch room, I was called to get my whipping.

I recall someone, whether it was a groundskeeper or the Mothers, someone had a monkey. That monkey chased me one time to the jungle gym.

I recall the church we went to and the older girls' school. I always hoped I would be able to go home before we got to that side.

I used to have the longest hair ever, my mother liked it to be long. I remember waking up one morning trying to get ready for prayer and discovering my hair in one big mass on one side of my head. I had gone to sleep with chewing gum in my mouth. There was no way to get the chewing gum out so one of the Mothers put my hair in a pony tail and cut it all off. My mother came to visit us shortly after that and she was not happy. For some reason, the Mother saved the pony tail for my box and gave it to her when she came. I remember seeing an old shoebox with my ponytail in it later.

Another sad time for a little girl was when we knew my mom was coming to visit, I had done something wrong to warrant penance. I had to write "I will not do such & such" a zillion times and remember being told I wouldn't be able to see my mom if I didn't finish in time. I must have finished in time because I got to see her.

My poor mom, trying so hard to make it. One time she brought us records, a ballerina one for my sister, and a piano one for me. I guess to get us interested in something.

I do want to end this by saying, though circumstances made it a very depressing and lonely time for me and my sister, I know the Mothers did the best they knew how. We had school, church, play time, and I don't ever recall any of them being mean to us. Except for the time one of the Mothers was on the merry go round and got scooted off when it started getting too fast, I laughed like a hyena, and I'm pretty sure my sister joined in. It must have been the funniest thing ever to me otherwise I would not have laughed. To this day, we recall me having to walk around with devil fingers above my head for the rest of recess.

So the name of this home that my sister and I knew it by was Guardian Angel with the high fence and brick building walls. My sister just recently asked me about this and I told her there was a school for older girls behind us but could not remember the name. So St. Michael's was the home for the older girls, ours was Guardian Angel. I remember it being near the old drive in and one of the car hop restaurants my mom worked at. I never knew this was considered an orphange until now though I suspected it as I changed my search today to see if I could find something about the school.

And yes, those Christmas toys did bring us lots of joy. Thank you for bringing them to us.

Jackie
Re: Area Orphanages
September 05, 2012 11:14AM
Dear Brooke,

I have a picture of your mom, the whole class that year. I came late and was not in the picture but a picture of me was taken afterwards. Same setting. We were pen pals when I left there for a little but, then we all faded away. I ran into another good pal of hers/our about 15 years ago.

Yes, I have many stories and have told them over many years. I knew your mother very well. She was my "big sister" while I was there and looked after me because I was the youngest and she took me under her wing. She protected me at times, lol. As time grows the memories fade with age sadly. I would love to hear how your mother is doing and how her life turned out.

When you say "my mother was here" what do you mean by here? Are you there at the school? Is the school still open? I have often wondered about all the girls who were there but could never find anything on the school until I stumbled upon this forum.

Is your mother still around? I don't want to say too much on this public site either. So if you don't want to say then don't. I was just curious about her all these years. She was very good to me. A book could be written about those years as their were many things that went on back in those days.

To all the others here:

Teresa, is that you? There was a Teresa there too that was good pals with Kathy too.

The school was not for unwed mothers or an orphanage. Not at that time anyway. It was a school for wayward girls, a nice way of putting it. Some girls were put there by the state, others for different reasons.

Yes, we were made to work in the HOT laundry building every day. That is how the school made money, it was from us doing local laundry.

Yes, there was a pool. It was dry without water for most of the time, but for a short while it was cleaned and we swam.

I still have my scrapbook from there and would have to look through it again for more details.
Re: Area Orphanages
September 24, 2012 05:09PM
I was sent to this High School for running away from home & spent my 10th grade of hlgh school from1960-1961 which was named Mt. St. Michael High School. It was ran by Our Lady Of Charity Nuns. I am now 67 yrs old but remember alot about this school. There was an orphanage on the campus named Guardian Angel home. Girls at Mt. St. Michaels ranged from junior high to high school age.There was a monastary called Mt. Carmel for nuns that never exited but devoted their lives to prayer. Then over the hill there was a seminary for monks studing to be priest. There was a laundry ran by the semi cloistered nuns who was addressed as Sisters. The nuns in the school was addressed as Mothers.I worked at the mangle in the laundry & the sister in charge of the mangle was Sister Mt. Carmel.Here are some of the names of the nuns i remember. Mother St. John in charge of us girls, Mother St. Theresa -Principal & in charge of our music.Mother St. John Eudes -taught short hand. Mother St. Leo-Reverand Mother. Some of the Sisters in the laundry were Sister Mt. Carmel. Sister Holy Savior, Sister Holy Mary. There were many more.
Re: Area Orphanages
September 24, 2012 06:27PM
When i have looked Mt. St. Michael High School at 4500 Davis ,Dallas up on the internet it is now a private Catholic school.Yes i could also write a book of my experiences at the school.
Bonnie
Re: Area Orphanages
December 02, 2012 12:56PM
I found this site, too, looking for info on Guardian Angel. I went there for a few months in 1964 - when I was 6 - with my older sister. I have few memories of the place. I didn't even remember the name until this week. I do remember the dorms and the playground with a high, chain link fence.

I had no idea it was also an orphanage though I do remember something about the "wayward girls" bit. All I remember is that it was the only boarding school that would take a 6 year old for the summer.

My sister and I went there from St Joseph's in Dallas. I still dream about that place ~ good and bad.

If any one has any pictures or memories of the place, I would love to hear them,
Re: Area Orphanages
January 18, 2013 07:09PM
My two brothers, one was my twin brother, lived at Dunne Memorial Home for Boys. I was in St.Joseph's Catholic School for Girls on Madison Ave in Oak Cliff. I was there from about 1967-1969. My little brother was at Dunne until 1973? next to St. Cecilia's Catholic Church.
Re: Area Orphanages
August 28, 2013 09:58AM
Hi! I have questions about Mt. St. Michaels. My mother was sent there when she was 16 and graduated in 61'. Her name was Vienna Valek and I was curious if you or anyone else remembered her or anything about her during her stay there.

She gave a few tidbits of info, but her memories were not clear or she simply didn't want to talk about it. She died last January and we've been going through photos and have some letters that she wrote to a boyfriend in San Diego during those two years. Also, she may have been there at an earlier time and was sent back home.

Did anyone know her when she got out or during the years that she lived in Dallas? She married Lanny Martin Ross, my father, then separated in '64, I think, my dad's memory is vague, too. She left Dallas in '68 for Houston. Do you remember her sister, Vanita Valek? She is a year younger and supposedly was there also for about 6 months. Anything will be helpful.

I'd be interested in knowing your experiences while there, Leona813zz, or anybody who spent time there. My mom says that the nuns were abusive and said some other things that I'm not sure are lore. I heard that the school had been torn down at one time and some 'secrets' were revealed.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you: i.e. anybody with info.

Thank you in advance.

C.T
Re: Area Orphanages
August 29, 2013 02:36PM
Anyone have memories or knowledge of a place called Sunshine Home? Located on Ewing Street in Oak Cliff I think.
Re: Area Orphanages
December 01, 2013 10:08PM
fred what a nice thing you doid for those children god will smile on you for that kindness
Re: Area Orphanages
January 01, 2014 04:42PM
Hi! I have questions about Mt. St. Michaels. My mother was sent there when she was 16 and graduated in 61'. Her name was Vienna Valek and I was curious if you or anyone else remembered her or anything about her during her stay there.

She gave a few tidbits of info, but her memories were not clear or she simply didn't want to talk about it. She died last January and we've been going through photos and have some letters that she wrote to a boyfriend in San Diego during those two years. Also, she may have been there at an earlier time and was sent back home.

Did anyone know her when she got out or during the years that she lived in Dallas? She married Lanny Martin Ross, my father, then separated in '64, I think, my dad's memory is vague, too. She left Dallas in '68 for Houston. Do you remember her sister, Vanita Valek? She is a year younger and supposedly was there also for about 6 months. Anything will be helpful.

I'd be interested in knowing your experiences while there, Leona813zz, or anybody who spent time there. My mom says that the nuns were abusive and said some other things that I'm not sure are lore. I heard that the school had been torn down at one time and some 'secrets' were revealed.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you: i.e. anybody with info.

Thank you in advance.

C.T
Re: The Bottom Line: The Orphanage
January 17, 2014 03:39PM
I don't remember any of the nuns being particularily kind really? but I don't remember any being abusive either. I was a rotten kid, two of us escaped from the school by crawling under the building then climbing the fence.. which had a wicked butterfly bob wire ... i got "licks" for that.. but not for anything else I did.. or we did.. no whippings and the "licks" weren't even that bad.. delivered by Mother Theresa. The Nuns who taught and managed the kids were all titled Mother and i think all dressed in white.. the nuns in the laundry were titled sister and wore black habits with maybe a white coif and black veil..

I did work in the laundry.. it WAS HOT! .. but i can only remember Sister All Saints who was in charge of that area I think, which was ironing? She seemed nice, if quiet and timid.

We did laundry for seminarians, but I didn't know where they were.. and they watched to make sure we didn't write anything on their undies ;-)

I wasn't aware of an orphanage.. thought there was a convent probably? but don't know what put that idea in my little mind.. and there were at least 3 entrances into the church.. one for little kids, one for big kids and one for outsiders.. this was back when women were not allowed on the altar.. except i think the nuns did clean.

Wish I remembered more. There was a girl named Lynn.. who "SAID" she had a twin that died named Synn .. and Lynn was lovely, and quite an artist.
Re: Area Orphanages
March 17, 2014 09:25AM
I started out in Guardian Angel, left for awhile and when I returned was put in St. Michaels. Mother St. Theresa was unforgetable. She was rather progressive for her time. She worn penny loafer instead of the witched witch shoes and drove like a bat out of hell calling other driver "jack onkies". She was tough. If you were argueing with another girl she would force them to get out in the middle of the gym which was Marian Hall and come to blows. That usually stopped that. smiling smiley
I remember being an ass most of the time and pretty much staying in trouble. I had to watch the movie which I'd been looking forward to "The mytery of the White Stallions with my back turned to the screen. However I had smuggled and compact in and watched it that way.
Re: Area Orphanages
March 17, 2014 09:28AM
I attended both schools. No unwed mothers or orphans. They did have cows and we had lots of fresh milk. Ulk.
Re: Area Orphanages
March 17, 2014 01:25PM
i only went to Mount St. Michaels.. do not remember cows anywhere close by.. but never asked where milk came from.. do remember pleanty of donuts though.. i think they were day-olds donated by a local donut shop.. and of course remember Mother St. Theresa.. but never saw her drive.. never noticed her shoes and she never had any of the girls of "my time" there fight it out when there were disagreements. I remember a paddeling.. we had ditched something to play in the swimming pool.. and my "uniform" skirt was wet.. so it HURT!!!!!!!!!!!!! it was school, church, laundry.. dorms.. i was in trouble a lot too.. but i was kicked out after probably a little more than one semester..
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